Garden Adversity

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Anonymous
Title: Guest

Having an outdoor cat would also scare off your rodents.  They say females are the best since they actually stick around.

Someone abandoned a cat at an apartment complex where I used to live.  The previous owners had declawed the cat so it was unable to hunt for itself.  We felt sorry for the cat and fed it.  Once this cat had regained its strength after a few weeks we stopped feeling sorry for it.  When it was not desperately hungry, it was a really mean cat.  It started chasing me around my apartment trying to attack me.  I took a towel, caught the cat in it, and put it back outside.

We watched this cat chase the squirrels around.  The fat town squirrels were not very predator savy.  The cat never caught the squirrels, just ran circles around them until they escaped up a tree.  This kind of cat would be a good deterrent to keep squirrels out of a garden.

In the end, this cat ended up in some animal rescue cat barn in the country.  A cat that attacks people is not exactly the adoptable type.

James

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

James wrote:

In the end, this cat ended up in some animal rescue cat barn in the country.  A cat that attacks people is not exactly the adoptable type.

James

There are 3 roaming neighborhood cats in my yard all the time (every day), and they're hunting.  So far, I have only found evidence of moles (rare) and mourning doves being killed (mourning doves love to sit on the ground to sun themselves, thus easy prey).  The squirrel/chipmunk/vole/mole population doesn't seem the slightest bit deterred.  Personally, I think having a cat to do the job is a red herring.  In fact, I'm irritated by cats who come into the yard and spray (stinks) or those who use rock-garden sandy soil as their toilet, either digging up plants in one's sandy beds, or worse yet, burying their turds in the soil and then the gardener "discovering" the foul turd squeezed within their hand while planting or cultivating an area.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Anonymous
Title: Guest

McDonough wrote:

Personally, I think having a cat to do the job is a red herring. 

Mark, I let someone who actually has a garden/greenhouse cat take this one.

James

externmed
Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-03-01

Ah yes, garden adversity.  I've been making vole feeders the last two days. Stryrofoam dinner plates on top of  styrofoam bowls, with 3 little feet and a one inch mouse hole on the low side.  I feel like Caddyshack, but the voles girdled almost everything up to a 8 inch apple tree last season *and collected* and ate large mounds of tulips and crocus.  The resurgence of coyotes make cats a doubtful prospect.  Then there are the deer (with Lyme disease for us) woodchucks and rabbits - and - slugs and snails, misc. caterpillars, spider mites and ants which seem to particularly like my sand bed - especially the part that I specially prepared for Lewisia rediviva; and fungus.  (Oh I forgot beavers, they haven't been a problem in the garden, yet as far as I know.) 

So Mark are Alliums impervious to any or most of these?; if so, watch out, I may be converting to all Allium.

Crazy extremely warm November.  Realized yesterday that Allium thunbergii is full of ripe seeds--never matured seed before.  Many Crocus, Alliums and some Colchicum have foliage up, way too much.  Forecast to go to 14F tonight and then 45+F in a few days with rain.  Made up my mind I'm going to cover the tender stuff today with pine needles.  With info from all accounts, will resist the urge to cover cacti. Though covering with a sash open on the ends seems safe.

Good luck to all with  their adversities.

Charles S MA USA Z 6a+/-

NE Massachusetts (New England) USA  zone 6 (5B to 6B)

gardens visited, photographs:  www.flickr.com/photos/wildmeadow

Peter George
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-03

All I can say about cats is that I have 2 that go outside, and in the past 10 years I've had no squirrels, no chipmunks and a very tiny number of voles in the gardens. Once in a while a find a bird, sometimes as many as 3 or 4 a summer, but I find at least 5 dead voles every week from April through October. I grow catnip in my 'butterfly' garden, and the cats love to congregate there, so they stay close to the plants most of the time.

So from my standpoint, cats are a huge benefit. And my property is about 3 1/2 acres, almost entirely surrounded by stone walls, which are normally home to literally hundreds of chipmunks. My cats, by the way, do their 'bathrooming' out of sight, usually behind my barn is the loose soil around the foundation. I don't garden there, nor do I even spend any time there, so it works out perfectly for them and for me.

And one more think; my cats keep neighbor cats off the property, so I don't have to deal with visitors who don't respect my garden beds, etc. And of course being somewhat rural, we have coyotes, foxes, fishers and weasels who also hunt the rodents, and sometimes the local cats, so we don't usually let ours stay out overnight.

Peter George, Petersham, MA (north central MA, close to the NH/VT borders), zones 5b and 6 around the property.

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

I suspect chipmunk and squirrel populations is not strictly even or averaged situations, there might be influencing factors, with areas of population at much greater density than others.  In my area, mature red oaks are a dominant feature of the deciduous woods, as are black walnut trees, probably supporting much greater populations of these varmints.  The oaks produce incredible profusion of acorns; intended on taking a photo this autumn where it would be easy to gather up wheelbarrows full of acorns in minutes... I thought it would make for a funny photo op, never took the photo though.  Judging from the squirrel diggings this fall, it was a big year for black walnuts too... just went out to toss some vegetable matter in a compost heap, and noticed that even with the ground frozen, there were several fresh large "potholes" in my Epimedium seedling beds... with heavy-thick shells of black walnuts in evidence, several Epimedium seedlings dug up as collateral damage and lying there bare-rooted and frozen...grrrrr!

When I first moved to my current town, my wife and I saw three homes that we liked, one was in a more wooded population, and I remember to this day one thing that struck me most; dozens upon dozens of gray squirrels frolicking about, everywhere one looked... the woods were almost entirely red oak.  Instead, I chose my current location, with a whole acre of sun and some distance from nearby woodlands, the flanking woodlands having lots of sugar maples.  Even so, chipmunks, plus red and gray squirrels are plentiful. In my more ambitious chipmunk removal periods, I could catch as many as 10-12 a day.  Each live critter was put into a large trash barrel with leaves at the bottom, and at the end of the day, I would drive them several miles away to be released.  With the squirrels, I need a new regime and will resort to more drastic measures, trapping them and then...  :o

Charles, after 24 years in my current location, only recently have woodchucks and rabbits moved in (the last 2 years), the woodchucks being particularly destructive.  I think it's very possible for pests that have not been an issue whatsoever for many years, suddenly become a problem by moving in, and with subsequent broods of young ones, they keep coming back.

Ever since I've been here, I've been battling mole damage... It never gets any better, no relief.  here are a couple photos last winter / early spring, after a thick mantle of 12-18" of snow receded, the tunneling damage in lawn and garden areas can be extensive (even when I winter baited).  One doesn't see the damage until spring.  Regarding Alliums, it's somewhat of a myth that Alliums keep the critters away, they do not, and I have lost large patches of Allium due to tunneling. At times, I feel like Bill Murray in CaddyShack too, going to war with rats with fluffy twitchy tails, and various tunneling vermin.

 

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Sometimes garden adversity happens in small and memorable ways.

I had excellent germination of Aquilegia saximontana from Jane Hendricks seed.  Then one day I noticed a disturbance in the flat, and lo and behold, it was a toad.  Now, I understand the benefits of toads in the garden, invariably I get one or two that'll scoop out a seed pot (they like round ones best) and half bury themselves in their cozy nest,  But why is it they always seem to target the best thing one's growing?  :(

I gently scooted the little fellow out of the flat, replanted the disturbed seedlings as well as I could, then covered the flat with wire mesh (my new seed sowing standard, otherwise chipmunks, squirrels, and occassional toads, will surely dig in each and every pot).

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Seems that slugs and snails - and occasionally a rat or squirrel - isn't always the worse problem after all :-\

You know Mark, toads or slugs  in pots where you have you most precious plants is as it is according to Murphy's laws  ;)

Red oak, is it Q. rubra? And black walnut, J. nigra?

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

Yesterday was the last day of hunting season and the hunter who has come here for many years bagged his last deer of the year - a mega-doe weighing in at almost 200 lbs.  Her size was probably due to the number of my plants she had been eating.  One more down and too many more to go.

externmed
Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-03-01

Anne, Congrats on one less deer - probably would have had twins.

Sometimes smoke bombs will work for woodchucks in their holes, usually takes serveral tries.

If I really have to get one, Campanula "Elizabeth" in a sufficiently large have-a-heart seems to work 80%+.  About $7.00 for the plant and nothing left once it's spent several hours in a trap with a woodchuck.

Charles MA USA

NE Massachusetts (New England) USA  zone 6 (5B to 6B)

gardens visited, photographs:  www.flickr.com/photos/wildmeadow

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